Friday, 29 June 2007

From Monogamy to Tart.... I blame Zane Lowe

I've never been someone to have many knitting projects on the go at one time. In fact, for most of my life I've been a one project kind of gal. But (and perhaps I should blame the bad influence of that modern music Zane Lowe* plays) lately I've become a bit of a project tart. I currently have 2 pairs of socks (3 if you count the ones I've decided to send to the frog pond), the Alpine Lace scarf, a Rowan denim cardigan I found languishing at the bottom of my stash and I'm about to cast on for the Mystery Stole 3 (wahey!) and my gorgeous god daughter's birthday gift.

I realise that many people survive quite happily with 10's of projects on the needles...but I'm not one of them. I'm a bit (ahem) of a control freak. And (sad confession) I tend to 'schedule' my knitting. I can juggle a portable sock (for commuting), a lace or complicated pattern for 'quiet' time and a simple project for tv time... but if I add a fourth project -where does it fit? Perhaps an excel spreadsheet with auto alarm functions is required....

CHECK THIS OUT: Next time you find yourself complaining to yourself about the 100, 200 or 300 stitches on your needle, or whinging because the yarn and needles are tooooooo fine check out this site The Princess Diaries . It's a blog of two people both tackling this gorgeous pattern from Heirloom Knitting . I've seen reference to rows with 865 stitches. eeeek!

It's an amazing project and I'll definitely be checking back there for updates. (Although for obvious reasons the blog seems to be more a 'once every few months' type blog than daily!) If you do check it out - leave them some encouragement. In one of the entries they compare knitting the shawl to running a marathon - and from my marathon experience I can say the encouragement from onlookers was always appreciated.

* Speaking of Zane Lowe the 'Reclaim the Hipness of the Knit' (aka get Zane to say the 'k' word) is still underway and still unsuccessful. I think I may be the only knitter who listens to Zane. (In fact I may be the only person over 25 who listens to Zane.)

But I won't give up easily. Or at all. I'm weird that way.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Egads - is it that time already?

How can it almost be July? July is supposed to be ages away. By my calendar I have tons and tons of time to sort out some yarn and pattern for the felted bag I'm making for my goddaughter's birthday. But by the rest of the world's calendar I have only a few weeks.


I expect the making of the bag won't be tooooo time consuming. But finding the perfect pattern will be. I want her to love the bag. I want her to think - "Scooby" (she calls me Scooby)(Soo became Sooby Doo which over time became Scooby Doo which was shortened to Scooby)(anyway) I want her to think "Scooby is so cool." not "Sigh. Scooby makes me stuff - wish she'd just give me vouchers." Any and all ideas gratefully accepted if anyone who happens upon this blog has any..... In the meantime I'll have a search through the stash and pattern pile.

On a more productive note I've finally picked out my first project from Victorian Lace Today. It's the Alpine Scarf. I'm not very far into it, but it's an enjoyable knit so far. There are only 2 'plain' rows in each 16 row repeat so it requires some concentration. But on the plus side, when you mess up you are most likely to find out in the next row - which improves the odds of being able to correct it without frogging.

I'm using Fiddlesticks Zephyr in plum. I love the yarn and the colour. Unfortunately, I'm using rosewood needles - dark wool on dark needles is not a good idea. Some bamboo needles ordered yesterday and should be with me tomorrow. Phew.

Speaking of needles, the pattern suggests 3.5mm - but I've dropped down to 2.75mm to get the pattern definition I'm happy with. Some people might have done that by a bit of swatching on 30 or 40 stitches. Not me, my process is:

*cast on 121 stitches
knit 16 rows
decide knitting is too loose
repeat from * FOUR times dropping .25mm in needles size until you finally settle on 2.75 mm needles

When oh when oh when will I learn??????

Friday, 22 June 2007

Sock Clubs - Like Christmas in June!

Today I received a sock club instalment from Cazza's sock club. This club is closed, but with luck she'll open another one later in the year.

It was quite exciting (in a sock geek sort of way) to get a squishy package and have no idea what it contained.... What's the yarn colour? What's the pattern? Despite my control freak tendencies I like the idea that someone else gets to decide what I knit next. So I opened the package and found two skeins of variegated yarn in some lovely greens and blues with a smattering of purple. This picture doesn't really do the colours justice I'm afraid.

Being an obsessive I had to see what it was going to look like knitted up and cast on right after dinner. It's a lace pattern, which is not normally something I would knit in a variegated yarn - but after one repeat of the pattern it's looking pretty good.

Thanks so much to everyone who has left comments lately. It's nice to know people are visiting!

Wendy asked about the pattern for the round felted bag. I had to dig back in my memory - but with the help of google I've located the pattern a blog called amimono note may 31, 2005 entry.

I used Rowan Big Wool - 1 ball for each colour on 8mm needles.

My 'embellishments':
  • The striping pattern is random -- as a geek I use a single dice to determine how many rows the next section should be. If I try to plan out the 'random' stripes beforehand I end up overanalyising the whole thing. I try not to second guess the dice - but as a control freak that's hard for me!

  • I did a round of single crochet around the top of the bag - it just seems to finish it off for me.

  • The giant bobble and closure - they are pretty straightforward. The closure is a 2 or 3 stitch i-cord . The bobble is a square knit on the same size needles (10-12 stitches by 10-12 rows). Using a darning needle I thread a strand of the yarn around the square - stuffed it with bits of yarn then pulled it into a bobble shape.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Blogs - Who Knew?

I confess that until recently I had strongly held views on blogs. (If you've visited more than once you'll have found I have strongly held views on lots of things. Like a lot of people it's fair to say, the less I know on subject the more strongly held my views.) Anyway - I felt blogs were for self absorbed folk who had too much time on their hands.

Ha! What a fool!

Before the world of knitting forums and blogs I had never felted, made a shawl or knit a sock. Inspired by the amazing yarns and patterns I've found on blogs and in forums over the past 2 months I've made 2 felted bags, 5 pairs of socks, 2 stoles and 1 shawl. Crazy! And the list of things I want to make and the yarns I want to knit with just grows by the day. My yarn stash has grown an embarassing amount, and I have gadgets and needles of every description...and still every day I find something new.

I've been a knitter since the age of 5 or 6 - but it's fair to say that I've been exposed to more aspects of knitting in the past 2 months than in the many (many) (sigh) years before.

This week I've decided to attack the Alpine knit scarf in Victorian Lace Today and yesterday I googled to see if I could find any pictures of finished scarves by other knitters. In that trawl I found some pictures from a knitter (Laura) of a different shawl in the book. It's fair to say the shawl hadn't really made any impact on me from the book -- but the pictures on this blog were stunning! And zooooooom - the shawl moves up the 'make me' list.

And this week - my blog became a 'mini (very) point of interest' on an American forum from One of the posters there was interested in knitting the Hanami stole, googled it and hit on my blog. It gave them all another view of Melanie's lovely pattern and a few things to consider in knitting it.

Through that, one of the forum members found the entries on the Kaffe Fassett coat. By some strange coincidence one of her knitting group members had brought the pattern to their meeting the night before and sent me a message to tell me. How cool is that!

I have found a couple of knit forums (the one listed above, and the Angel Board) to share ideas on, so many blogs I love to visit, 3 fab new local yarn shops and sooooo many amazing online shops (possibly too many if my credit card bill is anything to go by) -- I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the possibilities.

But it's great!

Great Zane Lowe Radio 1 'On Board' Mission
Texts sent so far are:
Day 1: Soo is knitting up socks and on board.
Day 2: On board and knitting a shawl. Soo.
Day 3: On board and loving the knitting groove. Soo

On day 3 I did get a shout out. But I'm not satisfied --he dropped the knitting reference and just said I was on board. Bah!!! This ain't over yet - Zane - not by a long shot.

Knitty, Witty, Woo - I like the idea of other knitters texting. But I do think we should stick to some rules. (I love rules.) (Even when undertaking some strange 'reclaim the hipness of the knit' campaign, I love rules.)(I'm a lousy revolutionary.)

  1. You can only text if you are actually listening. (7pm, Radio 1, Monday through Thursday - text 81199)
  2. You can only send one text per evening.
  3. Text should contain 'on board' and a knitting reference.

Obviously - you can ignore these rules - but I like to think that slowly over time he'll get a few more knitting texts each day until we break him and he finally sends out some love to the knitters.

I'm actually out tomorrow night so I'll continue the campaign on Monday (as per rule 1).

Monday, 18 June 2007

Taming the Bayerische

Yesterday I finished knitting up the second Bayerische sock. They do look lovely in red I think...
This is my fifth pair of socks and I think this addiction has firmly taken root. I have more sock yarn than I can list, and at last count had 7 (yep 7) different sock books -- all acquired since mid April. Expect to see a few more socks gracing this blog.

Below is my "Sockalong Sockathon" output. The goal was to complete 1 pair Opal Rainforest (check), 1 pair Monkey socks (check), and one pair Bayerische (check). The other two pair represent waiting time between finishing Monkey and the arrival of the red yarn for the Bayerische.

I finally had to graft the socks myself. And for a few moments I confess I started to doubt the existence of the Grafting Fairy. But I think it was just a scheduling problem and like Linus with the Great Pumpkin I won't let one let disappointment diminish my faith - I will continue to believe in the Grafting Fairy.

What's Next?
I'm still dithering about what to cast on next. I'm like a kid in a candy shop -- every time I stumble across a new pattern or yarn I change my mind!! I think I'll pull out Victorian Lace Today and see if I can settle on something.

....and finally - The Great Zane Lowe 'On Board' Mission

Often on a week night I find myself settling down with a bit of knitting around 7 -- and turning on the radio (which for reasons of laziness is always tuned to Radio 1) and hearing Zane Lowe 'shouting out' (young 'un talk) text messages from listeners who have got in touch to let him know they are 'on board' (more young 'un talk).

I quite enjoy the show - it's made up of mostly new music. For some of it I reassuringly find myself muttering under my breath "if that is what passes for music today" in much the same way my parents did. And much of it I reassuringly (in a contradictory sort of way) quite like - so there is some life left in me yet!

As someone who is almost definitely not part of Zane's target demographic (being very much the wrong side of 30) I decided to let Zane know we knitters are out there and, well, 'on board'. So tonight was night 1 of the text Zane Lowe with a 'Soo is knitting up socks and on board' message. I'm committed to texting every night (well, every night I'm around) until I get a shout out to knitters. Send some of that love to knitters Zane!

I'll keep you posted on results.....

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

My First Soo Socks

Recently I took delivery of some amazingly colourful Opal yarn. Brilliant colours which would create wide stripes on some lucky sock. (sadly the picture doesn't do the colours justice) A few weeks ago a colourful stripey sock would have been enough.... But now that I've completed a few pairs of socks** I realised that I wanted something a little different from my brilliant coloured stripes and so I began my first foray into sock design.

I wanted to add some movement to the pattern - but keep the striping. And I wanted a plain sole to the sock -- patterned soles don't seem very comfortable to me.

It's been fun so far although the challenge to keep the instep pattern going with a plain sole has meant more than a few false starts and trips to the frog pond. I think I'm getting close to what I wanted though -- although some further tinkering for the proper Soo Sock is required.

In the meantime I'm working on the second Bayerische (still on two circulars)(eeeeek) and considering my next big project.

Oh! and I've joined a Mystery Stole-along!! The designer is Melanie from PinkLemonTwist and I fully expect the final result will be as stunning as her other patterns. I can't wait for the first clue which is due the first week of July.

** 'completed' in this context means: knit but waiting for the grafting fairy to visit. Sigh.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Aran Weight Shawl -- Free at Last!

The giant aran weight shawl is finally free from the blocking wires. It took the full 24 hours to dry. Of course it's not like there is any real rush on for a new aran weight shawl on a beautiful sunny June day - but patience has never been my strong point.
(Am I the only one who worries that when I take the pins out that the blocking magic will end and the shawl will return to its shapeless former self?)

I'm really pleased with the final product -- despite more than a few reservations while I was knitting it. The wool Rowanspun Aran weight (discontinued - but on sale at ) softened nicely with washing and blocking.

I used 450ish grams of the wool and the finished measurements are an impressive 96 inches across the top, and 52 inches at its longest point. Pre blocking it was a puny 80 inches by 38 inches.The blocking wires really made blocking this much easier than it might have been otherwise. The wires kept the long side firmly anchored and let me stretch each of the points easily.

The pattern was free - and as they say worth every penny! I'm being a bit harsh - but unfortunately although the shawl itself was easy enough the pattern wasn't written particularly well. If you've had experience knitting another shawl and understand the basic shaping, and incorporating repeats as the number of stitches grow you'll be fine. If it's your first shawl experience and you don't have someone to help you along I think you'd be frustrated.

The shawl was knit on circular needles - starting with 4.5mm and moving up a size every 50-75 grams of wool so the final repeat was knit on 8mm needles. It was a relaxing knit and I enjoyed working on it while watching tv (most notably the Apprentice and Any Dream Will Do) (sad but true).

As for my next project I think I'm suffering from an overload of inspiration!! My yarn stash is overflowing and I have so many things I want to do.
PS - still no sign of the Grafting Fairy -- not even Hotel Chocolat can lure her to finish off those dang socks.


An evil cat is born... of pom poms.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

A Tale of Two Circs

I believe that socks should be knit on dpns. I think it's important to be clear on that point.

I don't look down on 2 circular needle sock knitters. I simply pity the socks. Sure, once they're done they're ok, and can't be distinguished from their cousins with better beginnings -- but it's the unfinished sock I worry about.

Unfinished socks on a skinny set of dpns are a beautiful sight. On dpns socks look at home, the look as knitting should look to non-knitters - complicated and requiring incredible cleverness of the knitter. Unfinished socks on two circs just look, well uncomfortable, at loose ends and well, silly.

Until this week I believed all socks should be knit on dpns.

And then I faced the Bayerische.

I cast on using lovely Addi bamboo dpns. They were smooth and pointy - but darn it all making those twisted cabled stitches was fiddly. I blamed the 7 inch needles and replaced them with gorgeous Lantern Moon 5 inch ebony needles. Sigh. But the knitting was still less than graceful. And occasionally one of the wooden needles would bend a little... Sigh again.

So, under cover of the night and an assumed alias I ordered two 2mm Addi circulars. Not that I was admitting defeat. No. It was - you know. So I could come to a balanced conclusion regarding their unsuitable-ness for socks.

They arrived yesterday morning.

And ... well ... the Bayerische was tamed. Now I was gliding along each round. I could abandon my many attempts to sensibly divide the pattern among the 4 needles. Now the pattern quite elegantly split between the two circulars. And I sped along to the end. (Note I put the sock back on to dpns for the grafting fairy -- she prefers them as well.)

Happily my tension didn't seem to change, but the knitting was much much easier. So I'll cast the second sock on the two circulars.

Those less stubborn and opinionated than I might think that suggests my dpn stance is wrong. Ha! Never! These socks are just the exception that prove the 'socks should be knit on dpns' rule.

The Grafting Fairy

I'm beginning to think that perhaps the Grafting Fairy doesn't exist after all.... I've added another sock and still nothing. I'll continue to leave my socks on the window ledge for a couple of more nights and see what happens.

Maybe if I leave some chocolate with them....

Blocking a Very Big Aran Weight Shawl

A very big aran weight shawl is drying (very slowly) in the guest room. I cast it off last night after the nailbiting Any Dream Will Do final. (I confess to being very pleased that Lee won. I might even have voted once (or twice). )

Anyway - I'll post another picture when it's released from captivity along some details later this week.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

When a sock doesn't know its place...

My sock knitting continues. As you'll note from the photo I seem to be waiting for the grafting fairy to finish them off.... Perhaps this week.

The multi-coloured socks which I previously described as 'quite the ugliest socks' have grown on me. I'm sure I can find a 10 year old to wear them.

Until now - socks have been my 'easy' knitting. The stuff I do while watching tv or while my brain is otherwise engaged.

But now I've met the mighty Bayerische -- and it has become my 'hard' knitting. The knitting that I do while sitting on my favourite chair with no distractions other than a few tunes from the radio or a CD. There are a number of 8 and 16 row charts -- and although the patterns make sense by the 2nd repeat -- I still need the guidance of the charts to keep the cables and twists moving in the right direction.

I ignored the recommendation in the pattern to use two circular needles rather than my beloved dpns -- and I'm paying the price. The pattern is FIDDLY (very) and the multiple needles really do make things harder than they should be. Worse still, one of my Addi bamboo needles (one which doesn't seem to have been made from the 'hardest part of the bamboo') has developed a curve and is quite flexible. I've got some new needles (dpns) on order.....

It's a great pattern - but I can't see myself making too many pairs of them! Perhaps a pair for my Mother for Christmas....

I seem to have acquired a library of sock books. I've quickly flicked through the pages of each - but don't have much to say about them yet. Other than that there are some great patterns and ideas to keep me knitting socks for a while yet!